Damages claim for loss of
professional status not precluded
Edwards v Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust the Court of Appeal
held that held that an employee could, in principle, recover damages for loss
of future employment prospects where an employer fails to follow a contractual
disciplinary procedure which results in a dismissal which would not have
occurred if the procedure been properly followed.
Edwards was a surgeon. He was summarily dismissed for gross professional and
personal misconduct following a disciplinary hearing. He has since been unable
to obtain permanent employment in the NHS. He brought a claim for damages
arguing that the disciplinary hearing was in breach of a contractual
disciplinary procedure, the procedural defects led to a finding of misconduct
which in turn had caused his inability to find permanent NHS employment. He
claimed £4m for career-long loss, but the judge accepted the Trust’s argument
that any damages should be limited to loss of earnings in respect of Mr
Edward’s three-month contractual notice period.
The Court of Appeal
upheld Mr Edwards’ appeal. The Trust had failed to follow its contractual
disciplinary procedure. Had the procedure been followed no findings of
misconduct would have been made against Mr Edwards. As a result, Mr Edwards
would not have been dismissed but would have carried on working for the Trust
until retirement. Given the Trust’s actions, he had lost the opportunity to
work as a full-time consultant surgeon in the NHS. Therefore, Mr Edwards could,
in principle, recover damages for loss of future employment
prospects, but whether or not the claim for career-loss damages was successful,
would depend on the evidence presented at the trial.
This provides summary information and comment on the subject areas covered. Where employment tribunal and appellate court cases are reported, the information does not set out all of the facts, the legal arguments presented and the judgments made in every aspect of the case. Employment law is subject to constant change either by statute or by interpretation by the courts. While every care has been taken in compiling this information, we cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Specialist legal advice must be taken on any legal issues that may arise before embarking upon any formal course of action.